Tips on Overcoming Public Speaking
Does the idea of speaking in public leave you with a dry mouth and weak knees? You’re not alone. Many people suffer from glossophobia or speech anxiety. The good news is that you can overcome your fears. Here are several tips on how to overcome the fear of public speaking:
- Practice, practice, practice: Jack Benny once said, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and the punch line was “Practice, practice, practice.” It’s no laughing matter, however. If you want to be a better speaker, you need to practice. Most of our fears come from not being prepared, so make sure you rehearse often and in front of others. Time your speech and look for speech crutches such as “ums” and “ahs.”
- Be confident: Do you know your material? Can you answer questions on the topic? When you practice in front of others, have them ask you questions, so you can rehearse answers as well.
- Breathe: Before you start your speech, take a deep breath and make sure your breathing is slow and controlled. It also reduces your anxiety.
- Pause: You do not have speak constantly. Taking a pause is fine to help you regroup, find your place and regain your composure.
- Look ‘over’ the audience: Often, what can throw you off is looking directly at the audience. Reactions can be misinterpreted and cause our anxiety to spike. Don’t look directly at the audience. Instead, look ‘over’ the audience and make eye contact with something else in the room.
- Practice using props: Whether you’re using handouts, a prop, or visual aids, make sure to practice using them so you can see if there are any issues. If you’re not using any props, consider using some. It will take the audience off of you and let them focus on the props for just a few seconds.
- Check out the room: Do not go into the room for the first time when you are speaking. Head into the room and check it out before it’s time for you to take the stage. Does your technology work? Can the audience in the back hear you? Check it all out ahead of time.
- Join Toastmasters: Still need help? Consider using an anxiety coach or joining Toastmasters International, a worldwide nonprofit educational organization that empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. The organization’s membership exceeds 345,000 in more than 15,900 clubs in 142 countries. Each week, Toastmasters clubs focus on improving speeches and confidence.
Tammy Levent founder of TravelAgentSuccessKit (T.A.S.K)